The work of photographer and filmmaker Jan Dirk van der Burg shows trails: narrow and unpaved paths created by being walked or ridden over again and again. They follow the organic movements of people who move through the world on foot or by bicycle. In this way, they call into question the sharply and clearly delineated spaces created on the drawing board by infrastructure and city planners. Here, trails represent resistance, small gestures of civil disobedience. They protest against this will to order and design, which blankets everything and yet makes no sense in daily life. They appear wherever the planners of the still car friendly world did not reckon with people who have a mind of their own.
Tracing Colonial Histories
For about five years, an archive has existed in Amsterdam, revealing that which is buried and rarely told. It makes visible (again) eradicated and suppressed voices, histories, and stories. Building on the legacy of the Surinam-born and later Amsterdam-based social scientist Waldo Heilbron, a center for (post)colonial history was established. From this base, hegemonic and Euro-centric historiography is expanded upon with other aspects, data, and facts that paint a more differentiated and multi-perspectival image of global developments over the last 400 years. As a place for collecting, researching, mediating, and producing knowledge, The Black Archives demonstrates how history can be oriented differently and, step by step, supplemented and expanded with exactly those missing and suppressed voices.
Participation in City Design
More than 400 people assembled at a self organized meeting in FC St. Pauli’s ballroom in Hamburg in February 2014. The reason for the unusual gathering were dramatic changes in St. Pauli. The neighborhood called for a »bottom up-organized, democratic planning process.« With the experience and the mobilization power of the broad Right-to-the-city-movement backing them, the interdisciplinary planning office Planbude is founded to develop a new land use plan for the city. Wish production starts in late summer. Planbude’s claim: »Knack’ den St. Pauli Code!« (Crack the St. Pauli code!) becomes the leitmotif for a process that builds on multilingualism in expression and making. The results of the process are captured in a contract and become the foundation for a planning competition. Local knowledge builds the basis for the reinvention of the city.
Thomas Hirschhorn’s works address the challenges of our time. They deal with climate emergency and justice, consumer excess and alienation. Many of the geopolitical discussions raised by the artist, which we can usually hold at a distance, collapse over and upon us. We break in. We become part of the Hirschhornian cosmos, which so clearly says how important it is to take a stance. At first glance, the exhibited collage seems strangely sober, almost alienated. Values and attitudes, not solutions, are at its core. We seek simple answers to the multitude of questions in vain. Rather, the project is about establishing social relationships, acting together, the invention of practices that produce or change spaces.
The Street as a Protest Space
As the work of Crimson Historians and Urbanists shows, limiting roads to discussions of mobility would be negligent. After all, street spaces also act primarily as spaces of protest. The street, closed off and swept empty of traffic, becomes a stage for expressions of discontentment and dissatisfaction with state systems or political decisions. Crimson’s work speaks of these struggles as well as of the dynamics and forces that are revealed here. The future of protest movements, they argue, is closely linked to the street as a place of assembly accessible to all. But this understanding is not a given everywhere. What happens, for example, if surveillance gets out of hand? Or, Crimson asks, will this be the very thing that triggers new protests?
A Quarter Taking Matters Into Its Own Hands
In the 1980s, Toxteth is the setting for violent class struggles. People move to other parts of Liverpool; many of the Victorian row houses fall into disrepair. As a result, a group becomes active in the neighborhood. They clean up, plant flower beds, paint windows, and establish a market. A Community Land Trust is set up. The aim: to create affordable housing that is owned by the people from the neighborhood. The group convinces the municipality not to demolish the houses. Later, the architecture collective Assemble comes on board and develops a plan for the area. Although the work is still unfinished and many houses are still in need of further attention, the people’s goal of taking the future of their area into their own hands has been achieved for the time being.
Small Fortified Buildings
We peer into a pit dug deep into the ground. In the middle: a last isolated house on a massive clump of earth. Nail houses, that’s what these structures—left in apparent wastelands—are called. For Ahmet Öğüt, these houses are »expressions of individual everyday resistance against strategies of state or corporate constraint.« They are remnants of hasty urbanization processes and, at the same time, speak of displacement. Öğüt’s model representations of the nail houses record this state of things as a warning. And so, resistance to the relentless global real estate industry and speculative land development is made visible in the long term and thus negotiable for others.